Gay, lesbian and bisexual youths are at far greater risk of sleep problems than their straight counterparts, according to a new study published in the journal LGBT Health.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 8,500 young people ages 10 to 14, a critical time for mental and physical development. They found that 35.1% of those who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported trouble falling or staying asleep in the previous two weeks, compared to 13.5% of straight-identifying adolescents.
In addition, 30.8% of questioning youths — those who answered “maybe” to being gay, lesbian or bisexual — reported problems with getting a full night’s rest.
“Sleep is incredibly important for a teenager’s health,” said lead author Jason M. Nagata, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “There’s growth spurts and hormonal changes that help you develop normally.”
Most kids don’t get quality sleep to begin with, Nagata said, but LGBTQ youths can face bullying and discrimination at school or conflicts at home that contribute to mental health issues.
Those problems can keep them from falling or staying asleep.
“It’s likely that one feeds off the other — poor sleep worsening mental health issues and mental health issues worsening sleep,” said Dr. Matthew Hirschtritt, a psychiatrist and researcher with Kaiser Permanente who did not work on the study.
Adolescents who get insufficient sleep may also have difficulty completing schoolwork and facing other academic challenges, Hirschtritt said, “which can exacerbate some of the school-based problems that LGBT youth already face.”
Existing research already points to increased sleep issues among sexual minorities, but Nagata said he believes this is the first time gay, lesbian and bisexual youths have been the focus.
“This is such a volatile period, both physically and mentally,” he said. “Teens are particularly vulnerable to the opinions of their peers, so it’s a high-risk group for mental health problems and suicide.”
Further research could illuminate other factors fueling sleep disorders among queer youths, he said.
“LGB kids experience more substance use than their peers, for example, which can alter sleep cycles and impair sleep,” he said.
Overstimulation and stress can also affect sleep. Separate researchNagata has worked on indicates gay youths use screens an average of nearly four hours a day more than straight kids.
He recommends teenagers establish consistent sleep schedules, make sure their sleeping environments are comfortable and limit their exposure to electronic devices and social media before bed.
Co-author Kyle T. Ganson, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said parents can also help by being actively involved in their children’s lives and supportive of their identities and any feelings they may be exploring.
“Adolescent development is a challenging time for many given the social pressures and physical, psychological and emotional changes that occur,” Ganson said in a statement. “Understanding this process and being present to support it is crucial for positive health outcomes.”
A lawsuit filed Tuesday challenges North Carolina’s requirement that transgender individuals who want to update their birth certificate undergo “sex reassignment surgery.”
Lambda Legal, a leading LGBTQ civil rights group, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on behalf of three transgender North Carolinians: Lillith Campos, a 45-year-old woman who lives in Jacksonville, and two minors — “C.B.” a 16-year-old boy from Chapel Hill, and “M.D,” a 14-year-old girl from Carrboro. (The names of the two minors have been altered in court documents to protect their privacy.)
“As someone who can’t afford surgery, it’s demoralizing and dehumanizing that my birth certificate doesn’t reflect who I am,” Campos said at an online news conference Tuesday morning. “Having incorrect documentation makes me feel like a second-class citizen.”
She added that the current policy forces trans people to out themselves, “even if they don’t feel safe doing so.”
According to the filing, a birth certificate that aligns with an individual’s gender identity “is a critical and ubiquitous identification document,” vital to accessing employment, education, housing, health care, banking, credit, travel and many government services.
For children, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue, birth certificates are often the only form of government identification they have, and are required for enrollment in school, recreational sports and summer camp.
“My daughter is a 14-year-old girl and the state’s requirement for surgery is unrealistic and creates a barrier for my child to have a normal childhood,” M.D.’s mother, Katheryn Jenifer, said at the news conference.
“Not having an accurate birth certificate has exposed my daughter to discriminatory treatment and exclusion in school, sports and other places,” she added. “No child should go through life knowing the state doesn’t recognize her as who she is.”
Jenifer said M.D. saw the case as a chance “to be the voice for kids like her that maybe don’t have support like she does.”
“She knows this could bring unwanted attention,” she Jenifer added, “but she feels it’s important enough that she wants to be a part of it.”
While the state imposes a surgical requirement, designated as “sex reassignment surgery,” the suit maintains it doesn’t provide a legal definition for the phrase.
“The decision is left to the subjective whims of each clerk,” it reads, resulting in “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the statute — rendering the statute unconstitutionally vague.”
Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan called the surgical requirement “inconsistent with standard medical practice” and said it presented “a significant barrier — sometimes insurmountable — to many transgender people, particularly those who may not be able to afford gender confirmation surgery, or who may not want or need it.”
The litigants argue the surgical requirement violates their constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment, as well as their First Amendment guarantee to freedom of speech.
Rather than financial compensation, Gonzalez-Pagan said, they’re seeking an acknowledgement that the surgical policy is unconstitutional and a requirement that the state allow trans people to update their birth certificate without surgery.
In addition to attorneys with Lambda Legal, the plaintiffs are being represented by the North Carolina firms Baker Botts LLP and Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP.
Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, has been named as a defendant, along with Assistant Secretary of Public Health Mark Benton and ClarLynda Williams-DeVane, state registrar and director of the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the lawsuit.
According to Lambda Legal, 34 states allow individuals to update the sex designation on their birth certificate without surgical intervention.
In fact, surgery is not required to update the gender marker on a North Carolina driver’s license, just a form from a health professional affirming their client’s gender identity.
Fourteen states still have a surgical requirement to change gender markers on birth certificates.
West Virginia requires a court order to amend the gender designation on a birth certificate, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. The state’s Vital Registration office will not issue a new birth certificate, instead striking through the existing name and gender and typing the new information above.
Tennessee law specifically prohibits amending sex on a birth certificate “as a result of sex change surgery,” a policy Lambda Legal is also currently challenging. Like transgender North Carolinians, though, trans residents in Tennessee can change the listed gender on their driver’s licenses and state identification cards without surgery.
In an email to NBC News, Gonzalez-Pagan said the decision of when and where to bring a challenge “depends on multiple factors, including our assessment of the law and whether we have encountered people affected by these policies that are willing to step up and take on such a challenge.”
The goal, he added, is to eradicate each of these barriers one by one “and to have one victory build upon the other.”
North Carolina has been a nexus point for LGBTQ equality in recent years: In 2016, after Charlotte passed an ordinance expanding its existing nondiscrimination protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation — including allowing transgender people to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity — the state’s General Assembly held a special session to pass House Bill 2, nicknamed the “bathroom bill.”
That measure prevented any municipality in the state from adding sexual orientation or gender identity to nondiscrimination laws, effectively blocking Charlotte’s efforts and sparking national boycotts that were projected to cost the state billions in lost revenue.
HB 2 was eventually repealed in 2017 as part of a compromise that placed a three-year statewide moratorium on nondiscrimination ordinances. Since then, Charlotte and several other cities have updated their nondiscrimination policies to include LGBTQ people.
And just last month, the state’s lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson made national headlines and faced calls to resign after a video surfaced showing him describing the LGBTQ community as “filth.”
“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality — any of that filth,” Robinson, the state’s highest Republican executive officeholder, said in a clip from a June speech at a Baptist church.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) adults have higher levels of mental health issues, physical abuse and economic instability than their non-LGBTQ peers, according to a new report.
The study, released last month by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in advance of Native American Heritage Month in November, found 42 percent of AIAN LGBTQ adults have been diagnosed with depression, compared to less than a quarter of non-LGBTQ Native people and just 6.7 percent of the general U.S. population.
AIAN LGBTQ adults, particularly women, are also more likely to engage in high-risk health behaviors, including heavy drinking, according to the findings.
Three-quarters of respondents reported not having had enough money to make ends meet in the prior year, compared to less than half of non-LGBTQ AIAN people. And nearly half reported a major financial crisis in the prior year, compared to just 11 percent of heterosexual, cisgender Indigenous people.
“The complex picture of health and economic vulnerabilities of AIAN LGBT people is likely a product of factors shared with all Indigenous peoples, such as the impact of historical trauma, and those shared across LGBT people, such as anti-LGBT stigma,” said lead author Bianca D.M. Wilson, a senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute and the report’s lead author, told NBC News.
In the report, Wilson stated that, “It is critical that policies and service interventions consider the LGBT status and multiracial identities of AIAN adults.”
‘Pushed out to the fringes’
Somáh Haaland, who is queer and nonbinary and uses gender-neutral pronouns, is the media coordinator for the Pueblo Action Alliance. Haaland also lives with clinical depression.
“The unique intersection of being Native and queer can feel incredibly isolating, both in a displaced urban setting and in our own communities,” they told NBC News.
Haaland said queer Indigenous friends have spoken to them about feeling “like they have to chose one marginalized identity over the other because existing as both simultaneously feels like it is not physically safe or feasible for their mental health.”
“In white queer spaces they experience racism and disconnection, while at home or on their reservation they may feel like being out could exclude them from cultural activities or simply being in community with their people,” said Haaland, whose mother is Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
“Being queer and being Indigenous are both beautiful identities to carry that are sacred when they intersect … But we often must fight twice as hard just to show that we are worthy of living and thriving.”
SOMÁH HAALAND, PUEBLO ACTION ALLIANCE
The Williams Institute study found that violence aimed at LGBTQ American Indians and Native Alaskans was prevalent: More than half of all respondents reported having been physically or sexually assaulted at some point, and 81 percent reported verbal abuse.
Pamela Jumper-Thurman is a retired research scientist in the ethnic studies department at Colorado State University and has researched HIV/AIDS education, substance abuse and mental health in American Indian communities for three decades. Jumper-Thurman said she’s not surprised by the findings.
“In the cities, they may have access to a sense of community, but on the reservations and the rural surrounding areas, they can be ostracized, made fun of and pushed out to the fringes,” she said of LGBTQ American Indians. “They have to be very careful about who they’re out to.”
Tribes are sovereign nations with their own laws and regulations, she added. “If LGBTQ people get assaulted or beaten up in a hate crime on tribal land, it’s often not prosecuted.”
State initiatives, like anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws and inclusive education programs, often don’t apply on reservations. Even same-sex marriage is not uniformly recognized.
A 2015 report from the National Congress of American Indians found 54 percent of gay and lesbian AIAN students reported being subject to physical violence because of their sexual orientation, and more than 1 in 3 said they missed class at least once in the last month for fear of being bullied or harassed.
“LGBTQ kids don’t have a place to go,” Jumper-Thurman said. “They don’t have family acceptance, and they may not even have a group of friends they feel comfortable with.”
Haaland shared a similar sentiment.
“Being queer and being Indigenous are both beautiful identities to carry that are sacred when they intersect,” they said. “But we often must fight twice as hard just to show that we are worthy of living and thriving.”
Working toward solutions
Jumper-Thurman recently worked with the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University on a series of posterstargeting American Indian families and communities to help support LGBTQ and two-spirit youth. (The phrase “two-spirit” started as an umbrella term in the 1990s for the understanding of gender beyond male and female that many tribes historically embraced before colonization but has come to encompass a diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities.)
The posters show how negative reactions to a child’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression can have a detrimental impact on their well being.
“You’re part of a group already dealing with racism and historical trauma and, within that group — if you’re queer — you can be alienated from your community and even your family,” said Sharon Day, a member of the Ojibwe nation and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Forcein Minneapolis. “For people living on reservations, these are small, rural communities that are slower to change.”
Day was one of two children to come out in her family. In 1987, she helped organize the Basket and the Bow, the first national gathering of gay and lesbian American Indians, held at the Minneapolis American Indian Center. (The annual event was later renamed the International Two-Spirit Gathering.)
Today, the Indigenous Peoples Task Force offers a variety of programs but works extensively in HIV education and testing, harm reduction and suicide prevention among Native youth.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Native youths ages 10 to 24, according to the National Indian Council on Aging. A study last year by The Trevor Project found LGBTQ AIAN young people were two-and-a-half times more likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year than their non-Native peers (33 percent to 14 percent).
Both Day and Jumper-Thurman say acceptance of LGBTQ members varies greatly from tribe to tribe and often depends on religion.
“The communities that have been heavily Christianized are the ones where there’s a lot of inequality and discrimination,” Day said. “In the Ojibwe creation story, men and women came into the world simultaneously. We didn’t come from Adam’s rib. That came with the settlers.”
In the South, especially, Christianity is a big part of Native American life, according to Jumper-Thurman.
“There’s just a lot of religious overtones that have infiltrated and changed the culture so much that being LGBT is seen as a bad thing in their eyes,” she said.
The Williams Institute survey found more than 60 percent of AIAN LGBTQ adults reside in the Western and Southern United States.
“In the South, the Church of Christ and Southern Baptist Church are pretty pervasive,” Jumper-Thurman said. “These are not gay-friendly churches, and they’re the ones that have a lot of sway in those areas. In the area where I lived, there were more churches in town than anything else. They may preach in the native language, but they still preach the dogma of white, homophobic Christianity.”
Day founded the Indigenous Peoples Task Force after her brother, Michael, tested positive for HIV in 1987 and they discovered a near total lack of HIV education and prevention programs aimed at the American Indian community.
“We aim to be a safe space, and LGBT people are integrated into everything we do,” Day said.
‘We’ve always been here’
Using data culled from the Gallup Daily Tracking Survey from 2012 to 2017, the Williams Institute estimates that 285,000 AIAN adults identify as LGBTQ. That’s roughly 6 percent of the total Native population — and slightly higher than the 5.6 percent of the general population that identifies as LGBTQ, according to a Gallup poll in February.
AIAN people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community tend to be younger, according the report, with 33 percent between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to just 15 percent of non-LGBTQ AIAN people in that age group.
“Social media has given the youth greater acceptance and more power to express who they are,” Day said. “Because they can belong to a community online, where they may not be able to in the real world. They can reach out to other people.”
For many years, identifying as gay meant leaving the reservation, Day said, for much the same reasons white people who came out left small towns — isolation, alienation and discrimination.
“In the last couple of decades, there are more queer [Native] people who are staying in their home communities,” she said. “Some of that has to do with changing attitudes. I think more and more we see people returning to the cultural values system of our past, and those values are to be kind and loving, to be courageous and honest, to be respectful, to seek wisdom and to be generous.”
“When we’re following that original system,” Day added, “it’s really difficult to not be accepting of other people.”
LGBTQ Natives, she said, “are starting to look at our history and say, ‘We’ve always been here. We’re part of the circle.’”
Haaland called the gender binary “a colonial construct based on European values.”
“Pre-contact, the Native people that we now label as queer and trans were often revered and had sacred roles in their communities,” they said. “It was not until colonialism that the European perspective of gender and sexuality was forced upon our people as a part of the bigger effort to control us and assimilate us into whiteness.”
Day said she tries to remind other American Indian and Alaskan Native people that “these are the values that have been with us since the beginning of time.”
“These are the original instructions,” she said, “and if we follow them it’s really hard to hate anybody.”
The Dutch monarchy made international news last week after announcing that royals can marry a same-sex partner without giving up their right to the throne. But while the Netherlands, which in 2001 became the first country to legalize gay marriage, has paved the wave for a queer royal to officially wear the crown, LGBTQ people have long been doing so unofficially.
While it’s difficult to assign modern labels to figures from the past, there were notable leaders from centuries — even millennia — ago, who crossed sexual and gender boundaries. Some were celebrated by their subjects, others vilified.
In light of the Dutch monarchy’s recent announcement and in honor of LGBTQ History Month, which is celebrated in October, here are 13 queer royals you didn’t learn about in school.
Emperor Ai of Han (27 – 1 B.C.)
Made emperor of the Han Dynasty at age 20, Ai was initially well received by his subjects but eventually became associated with corruption and incompetence. He was also widely known to have been romantically involved with one of his ministers, Dong Xian, though both men were married to women.
In the “Hanshu,” or “Book of Han,” Dong and Ai’s relationship is referred to as “the passion of the cut sleeve.” As the story went, the pair had fallen asleep together on a mat and, upon waking, the emperor cut the sleeve off his robe rather than disturb his lover. (The term “cut sleeve” remained a Chinese euphemism for male homosexuality for centuries.)
Dong was granted many honors, eventually being made commander of the military, and he and his family lived inside the imperial compound.
According to historian Brent Hinsch, many Han emperors reportedly had “male favorites” who were listed in both the “Book of Han” and the “Shiji,” or “Records of the Grand Historian.”
“It is not women alone who can use their looks to attract the eyes of the ruler,” the “Shiji” reads, according to Ban Gu’s “History of Early China.” “Courtiers and eunuchs can play that game as well. Many were the men of ancient times who gained favor this way.”
Emperor Hadrian of Rome (76 – 138 A.D.)
Another leader who showered his male lover with attention, Hadrian was in a politically arranged marriage to the great-niece of his predecessor — a loveless union that bore no children. It wasn’t unusual for high-powered Romans to have male partners in addition to their wives, but Hadrian was almost slavishly devoted to his young consort, Antinous.
When Antinous mysteriously drowned in the Nile in 130 A.D., Hadrian was so grief-stricken he had the young man deified and put up monuments to him everywhere.
“Hadrian was clearly bereaved and he had lots of images put up,” Thorsten Opper, who curated an exhibit on the emperor at the British Museum, told The Independent in 2008. “When a city [in Egypt] was founded close to the spot where Antinous drowned, he named it Antinopolis. It was a sort of hero cult-worship of Antinous.”
Al-Hakam II of Córdoba (915 – 976)
A 10th century caliph in Córdoba, Spain, Al-Hakam was known for his largely peaceful reign and his love of learning: His library contained more than 400,000 books, and he provided sanctuary to many writers and philosophers.
The caliph’s sexuality has been the source of some debate: According to the French medievalist Évariste Lévi-Provençal, the phrase “hubb al-walad,” found in 16th-century historian Ahmed Mohammed al-Maqqari’s compendium “Nafh at-Tib” in reference to Al-Hakam II, translates as a “preference for boys,” though other scholars maintain it refers to paternal love.
The Medieval Europe scholar Francisco Prado-Vilar wrote that knowledge of Al-Hakam’s homosexuality in the court of Córdoba “encouraged the ambitions of the factions gathered around his much younger brother, Prince al-Mughira.”
“In his youth his loves seem to have been entirely homosexual,” queer studies scholar Louis Crompton wrote in “Male Love and Islamic Law in Arab Spain.” “This exclusivity was a problem when he succeeded to the throne, since it was incumbent upon the new caliph to produce a male heir.”
Despite rumors of having a male harem, Al-Hakam did marry a Basque concubine named Subh, but reportedly gave her the masculine nickname Jafar. Subh is said to have worn the short hair and trousers of a ghulam, or young man,to garner her husband’s attention.
King Edward II of England (1284 – 1327)
King Edward II of England’s intense relationship with Piers Gaveston drew the ire of many nobles at court and forced Edward to send his favorite away more than once.
“When the king’s son gazed upon him, he straightaway felt so much love for him that he entered into a covenant of brotherhood with him and chose and firmly resolved to bind himself to him, before all mortals, in an unbreakable bond of love,” wrote one chronicler at the time.
The sexual nature of their relationship has been alluded to in Christopher Marlowe’s 1592 play, “Edward II,” and addressed more directly in queer filmmaker Derek Jarman’s 1991 film of the same name.
But even contemporaries were claiming the two men were unusually close, with some nicknaming Gaveston a “second king.”
According to English Heritage, which manages historic British monuments, “It is impossible to know the exact nature of their relationship, but there is strong evidence to suggest it was a romantic one.”
Eventually, their relationship estranged Edward from his wife, Isabella of France, and her allies at court. After he returned from exile a third time in 1311, Gaveston was hunted down and decapitated by a group of noblemen, including Edward’s cousin Thomas, the Earl of Lancaster.
In 1326, Isabella and her possible lover, Roger Mortimer, seized power and had Edward deposed and imprisoned. He died at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire a year later.
Rumors that Edward II had been gruesomely executed by having a red-hot poker inserted into his backside spread quickly, likely started by his political enemies.
Queen Ana Nzinga of Ndongo (1583 – 1663)
The gender-nonconforming ruler of Ndongo and Matamba in modern-day Angola, Nzinga fought off Portuguese colonialists, alternately through diplomacy, trade and guerrilla warfare.
She welcomed runaway slaves and European-trained African soldiers, and adopted kilombo, a military strategy in which male youths were taken from their families and raised communally in militias.
In a 1670 book, her Dutch bodyguard, Captain Fuller, described 60-year-old Nzinga as wearing “men’s apparel” during ritual sacrifice, “hanging about her the skins of beasts … with a sword about her neck, an axe at her girdle, and a bow and arrows in her hand.”
Fuller also described a cadre of young men whom Nzinga kept dressed in women’s clothing.
“The thing about Nzinga is her title was Ngola, and Ngola means king,” the Nigerian American photographer Mikael Owunna told NPR in 2017. “Nzinga ruled dressed in full male clothing as a king, and she had a harem of young men dressed as women who were her wives. So in the 1600s, you basically had a butch queen with a bunch of drag queens for wives leading a fight against European colonization.”
Married to Anne of Denmark, James is thought to have had relationships with several male courtiers — most notably, George Villiers, whom he made the Earl and later the Duke of Buckingham. (In the early 2000s, restoration work on Apethorpe Palace revealed a secret passageway connecting James’ and Villiers’ bedchambers.)
“To the shock of many courtiers, the pair were demonstratively affectionate to each other in public, despite James’ various proclamations against homosexuality,” Daniel Smith wrote in “Love Letters of Kings and Queens.”
A popular epigram at the time compared the Jacobean monarch to his Tudor predecessor, Elizabeth I, declaring, “Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.”
Contemporary poet Théophile de Viau put it more bluntly: “It is well known that the king of England f—- the Duke of Buckingham.”
Fending off claims of favoritism, James proclaimed, “You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else.”
“I wish … to not to have it thought to be a defect,” he added, “for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had John, and I have George.”
Queen Christina of Sweden (1626 – 1689)
It’s hard to separate fact from fiction with this 17th-century Swedish royal: Her predilection for wearing men’s clothes and enjoying literature, hunting, alchemy and other male-dominated activities spurred rumors Christina was a sexual deviant or intersex.
“There is nothing feminine about her except her sex,” a Jesuit priest wrote in 1653. “Her voice, her manner of speaking, her walk, her style, her ways are all quite masculine.”
Oliver Cromwell’s secretary of state John Thurloe commented on Christina’s “Amazonian behavior” and said that “nature was mistaken in her,” while salacious French pamphlets claimed she was “one of the most ribald tribades ever heard of,” using the contemporary term for a lesbian.
But how many of those barbs were simply attempts at character assassination isn’t clear.
“The monarch has been described at best as ‘unconventional’ and at worst as an impulsive, over-emotional murderer,” historian Amy Saunders wrote in The Royal Studies Journal. “Christina’s sexuality and gender have been constantly reconstructed, re-examined, and re-interpreted.”
Since childhood, the queen’s closest companion was Countess Ebba Sparre, whom she introduced as “my bed-fellow.”
“How happy I should be if only I could see you, Beautiful One,” Christina wrote to Sparre in 1656. “But I am condemned by destiny to love and cherish you always without seeing you. I cannot be completely happy when I am separated from you.”
“It’s difficult to imagine just how Christina understood her own feelings for Ebba, and for those of other women, like the Comtesse de Suze, on whom she is said to have been keen,” Sarah Waters, author of “Tipping the Velvet,” wrote in the Feminist Review in 1994. “There was certainly gossip about Christina’s relations with women in her own day, identifying her as the aristocratic ‘tribade.’”
Christina, who abdicated rather than marry, wrote in her memoir that she felt “an insurmountable distaste for marriage” and “for all the things that females talked about and did.”
Though the 1933 film “Queen Christina” inserts a fictional heterosexual romance, the movie cemented screen goddess Greta Garbo’s status as a queer icon.
Queen Anne of England (1665 – 1714)
Anne, who suffered from frail health throughout her life, met Sarah Churchill when the two were girls. They quickly became close confidants, embarking on a relationship that lasted well into adulthood.
“If I could tell how to hinder myself from writing to you every day I would,” Anne wrote to her friend. “But really I cannot … when I am from you I cannot be at ease without enquiring after you.”
When Anne became queen in 1707, she made Sarah and her husband the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and appointed Sarah the Keeper of the Privy Purse. Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark, but rumors circulated that the two women were having a secret romance.
Eventually Sarah became a bit too accustomed to her access and influence and Anne became more drawn to Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Masham.
In 1708, political pamphlets likely circulated by a jealous Sarah pointed to “dark deeds at night”between Abigail and the queen. After a final falling out at Kensington Palace in 1710, Sarah and Anne never spoke again.
“The Favourite,” a somewhat fictionalized 2018 account of Anne’s relationships with Sarah and Abigail — complete with lesbian liaisons — earned Olivia Colman a best actress Oscar as the conflicted queen.
Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712 – 1786)
Even in his lifetime, this Prussian royal was widely rumored to be a homosexual, though that term wouldn’t be coined till nearly 90 years after his death.
Two years after the king’s death, his physician Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann published a book in which he desperately tried to dispel gossip Frederick had a “Grecian taste in love.”
In “Frederick the Great: King of Prussia,” T.C.W. Blanning writes that Zimmermann claimed the king had a minor deformity on his penis that rendered him impotent. And rather than let that secret out, Frederick pretended to be gay, “so that he would continue to appear virile and capable of sexual intercourse, albeit with men.”
But Frederick’s proclivities were apparent at a young age: As a 16-year-old crown prince, he was caught having an affair with a 17-year-old page.
“We were unaware of my brother’s artifices,” his older sister Wihelmine wrote. “Though I had noticed that he was on more familiar terms with this page than was proper in his position I did not know how intimate the friendship was.”
Their father, King Frederick William, detested what he saw as his son’s effeminacy and was increasingly despotic toward him. Frederick tried to run away with another rumored lover, Hans Hermann von Katte, but the pair were caught.
Von Katte was executed in front of Frederick, shouting, “I die for you with joy in my heart!” before being beheaded.
Frederick became king of Prussia in 1740 and was considered a savvy military leader, politician and patron of the arts committed to the Enlightenment. But he did little to obscure his sexuality: Sanssouci, his palace in Potsdam, was filled with homoerotic art and, across Europe, “les Potsdamists” became slang for homosexuals.
The king allegedly pursued the Venetian philosopher Francesco Algarotti and even famed French philosopher Voltaire, who lived with him at Sanssouci, though it’s not certain if either relationship was sexual.
After Voltaire’s death in 1778, a manuscript of his memoir detailing Frederick’s homosexual tendencies in detail was stolen and published in the Netherlands.
Because of his military acumen, Frederick was glorified by the Nazis as a great German leader, though his sexuality was heavily obscured.
Princess Isabella of Parma (1741 – 1763)
Wed to Archduke Joseph of Austria, Isabella was rumored to truly be in love with Joseph’s sister, Archduchess Maria Christina, known affectionately as Mimi.
She spent all her time at court in Vienna with the archduchess, rather than her husband, and the two exchanged hundreds of letters. Maria Christina’s were destroyed after her death, but Isabella’s make her ardor apparent: “I am told that the day begins with God,” she wrote in one. “I, however, begin the day by thinking of the object of my love, for I think of her incessantly.”
The relationship was also a great source of conflict for Isabella, because it meant betraying her duties as the wife of a prince. More significantly, though, Isabella realized this was the great love of her life, but she knew that for Mimi, it was more of a youthful dalliance.
The princess died giving birth in 1763 at age 21.
Archduke Ludwig Viktor of Austria (1842 – 1919)
Being the younger brother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I didn’t save Ludwig Viktor from ruin when he made an unwelcome pass at a man at Vienna’s Centralbad bathhouse.
“It appears there was a row, and the Archduke was knocked down by one of the bathers, an athletic young man of the middle classes,” The Chicago Tribune reported in 1906. “According to witnesses, the young man’s actions were justified.”
Ludwig was banished from Vienna for the remainder of the emperor’s life. “He has also been forced to resign his patronages, and most of his staff have been moved to other positions,” the Tribune reported, adding that the archduke has been “virtually ostracized” from society.
“The Viennese are very tolerant of scandals in imperial and aristocratic circles,” the paper wrote, “but Ludwig Viktor’s affairs proved to be too much even for them.”
The archduke spent the rest of his life in seclusion at Klessheim Palace near Salzburg, where he died at the age of 76 in 1919, three years after his brother’s death and one year after the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved after the end of World War I.
In 1886, Mwanga II ordered the brutal torture and deaths of dozens of courtiers and pages, with many burned alive. While some sources claimed the incident stemmed from the victims’ attempt to save a British missionary, The New York Times reported the massacre was sparked by “the refusal of a Christian lad acting as the king’s page to commit an abominable crime.”
Whatever the cause, the mass slaughter earned international condemnation and further destabilized Mwanga’s rule, leading to his eventual exile and British annexation of Uganda in the 1890s.
The victims were beatified as martyrs in 1920, and then canonized in 1964. There is a shrine dedicated to them in Namugongo and Martyr’s Day is still celebrated in Uganda every June.
Over time, they became national heroes and the “founding narrative of Christianity in Africa,” political scientist Rahul Rao told The Atlantic.
More than a century later, right-wing religious and political leaders like Museveni still use the martyrs to justify attacks on the LGBTQ community in Uganda.
“I hear there was homosexuality in Mwanga’s palace,” Museveni told a crowd of thousands on Martyr Day in 2010, the Atlantic reported. “This was not part of our culture. I hear he learnt it from the Arabs. But the martyrs refused these falsehoods and went for the truth, which is why we are honoring them today.”
King Umberto II of Italy (1904 – 1983)
After Mussolini’s fall, Umberto’s father, King Victor Emmanuel III, was viewed as a Fascist sympathizer. Under pressure from Allied forces, he abdicated in favor of his wastrel son, Umberto, in 1943.
Umberto was married to Queen Marie-José of Belgium and the couple had four children. But the Orva, Mussolini’s secret police, had kept dossiers on Umberto’s male lovers, who reportedly included famed filmmaker Luchino Visconti, boxer Primo Carnero, and French actor Jean Marais.
One former fling said when he was a young lieutenant in Turin, the prince courted him incessantly, giving him a silver cigarette lighter with the inscription “Dimmi di sì!” (“Say yes to me!”).
Critics decried Umberto as dim-witted, shallow and a poor leader.
The same year he was made regent, Umberto was outed by the Fascist press in an attempt to discredit him. It worked: After just 34 days the public voted to abolish the monarchy.
Separating from his wife in 1946, Umberto lived out the rest of his life in exile. He died in Geneva at age 78.
Comics fans are still reeling from the news that next-generation Superman Jonathan Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, is bisexual. Although DC shared the news on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day, Kent will explore his feelings for another young man in “Superman: Son of Kal-El” No. 5, dropping in November.
Queer representation in comic books has exploded in recent years, but in 2021 it went supernova: In part that’s due to an expanding presence in sci-fi TV shows and — with the release of Marvel’s “Eternals” next month — a blockbuster movie.
Below we celebrate a dozen comic book characters who hoisted the rainbow flag this year in print or screen.
No, Clark Kent hasn’t come out: His son, Jonathan, is taking on the mantle of the Man of Steel while Dad pursues an existential threat off-planet.
After Jon physically and emotionally burns out from “trying to save everyone that he can,” according to a DC Comics news release, Jay is there to support him. The two have their first kiss in the book’s fifth issue, out on Nov. 9.https://iframe.nbcnews.com/erqkh9l?app=1
Series writer Tom Taylor insists the storyline “is not a gimmick.”
“When I was offered this job, I thought, ‘Well, if we’re going to have a new Superman for the DC Universe, it feels like a missed opportunity to have another straight white savior,’” Taylor told Reuters.
“So, this isn’t everything to do with them. And there’s a reason this is coming in issue five and not issue one. We didn’t want this to be ‘DC Comics creates new queer Superman.’ We want this to be ‘Superman finds himself, becomes Superman and then comes out.’ And I think that’s a really important distinction there.”
Taylor added that he was proud “more people can see themselves in the most powerful superhero in comics.”
Numerous young men and women have donned Robin’s iconic red and green tights, but it’s Tim Drake exploring his sexuality, starting in “Batman: Urban Legends” Number 5, released Aug. 10.
In the story, Tim reconnects with an old friend, Bernard, who gets kidnapped by the Chaos Monster. Over the course of the issue, Tim realizes his feelings for Bernard are deeper than he’s realized.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that night and I — I don’t know what it meant to me,” Tim says after rescuing his friend. “Not yet. But I’d like to figure it out.”
Bernard then asks Tim out on a legitimate date, which the young hero accepts.
“Batman: Urban Legends” is an anthology series, so readers won’t learn what happens next for the pair until issue No. 10 in December, when Drake is expected to leave Gotham City.
The character has previously been linked to Stephanie Brown, the superheroine Spoiler. Should he prove to be bisexual or even bi-curious, he’d be the first male member of the Bat family to join the LGBTQ community.
“While female LGBTQ representation is very important, especially in comics, there is also a history of deeming these characters as ‘acceptable’ only because LGBTQ women are often fetishized,” “Urban Legends” writer Meghan Fitzmartin told NBC News earlier this year.
In the DC Comics universe, Batwoman is an out lesbian, Catwoman has been presented as bisexual and antiheroes Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have been portrayed as romantic partners.
“It becomes uncouth for male characters to explore their sexuality because of what it may mean for the male readers,” Fitzmartin said. “Ultimately, what I want from art is for it to challenge the way we see the world and face us with the truth that exists below the surface.”
Jess Chambers debuted as Kid Quick, part of an alternate-universe version of the Teen Titans, in the holiday-themed anthology “DC’s Merry Multiverse” in December 2020. Their universe, “Earth 11,” is not that different from the DC universe we know except genders are reversed, with heroes like Wonderous Man and Aquawoman.
The speedster, who uses they/them pronouns, got a major promotion during the “Future State” storyline that ran through various DC books, miniseries, one-shots and anthologies in January and February and continues to impact current continuity today.
Chambers debuted as the Flash in the first issue of the two-part “Future State: Justice League,” released Jan. 12.
Writer Ivan Cohen said in a reality that is already commenting on gender, it felt natural to introduce a hero that defied the binary.
“In the DC superhero universe, we’ve got a superfast character, Kid Flash. And I thought about how ‘Kid’ can really be any gender,” Cohen told NBC News in November 2020. “There are all these choices we can make — why don’t we do something besides what we would have made up if it was 1965?”
Setting the story on an alternate Earth also freed him from decades of comic-book continuity.
“Earth 11 is such a blank page that making it more diverse didn’t require a lot of shoehorning. No one is going to run to their back issues and complain we contradicted something,” Cohen said. “If someone has a problem that a Flash from an alternative universe is nonbinary, there’s a lot of other comics they can read.”
Batwoman, a.k.a. Kate Kane, debuted in the 1950s as a female foil to the Caped Crusader. But in 2006, writer Greg Rucka reintroduced the character to comics readers as a lesbian vigilante kicked out of the military for violating “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
During the “Batwoman” season two premiere on Jan. 17, 2021, bisexual actress Javicia Leslie took over Batwoman’s cowl, playing a brand new character, Ryan Wilder.
“What I love is that she’s not only strong enough to keep going, but she’s also an advocate and fights for her community,” Leslie told NBC News previously. “I think that subconsciously it plants seeds of empowerment in our community … seeds of power, strength, and toughness.”
Green Lantern is more a title than a single superhero name — it’s been used by numerous characters throughout DC Comics’ history. The most famous is Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 “Green Lantern” film. But the first hero to slip on the magic green ring was Alan Scott, created in 1940 by writer Martin Nodell and artist Bill Finger.
When Jordan’s Green Lantern debuted in 1959, Scott was relegated to an alternate universe and, over the decades, he’s retired, returned to crime-fighting, been tossed in limbo, become an elder statesman, and been rebooted as a young gay crimefighter on yet another alternate Earth. https://iframe.nbcnews.com/HeWRxar?app=1
This year, Green Lantern Alan Scott returned to his roots as an older WWII-era hero who has “walked this Earth for a long time, much longer than should have been allotted,” as he said in March’s “Infinite Frontier” #0.
In the same issue, penned by bisexual writer James Tynion IV, the gray-haired ring-slinger comes out as gay to his adult children, the superhero duo Jade and Obsidian.
Scott admits to having had relationships with a few women — including their mother — but added, “I knew there was something about myself I was hiding away.”
Scott says he was asked to be a guardian of the Earth, and tells Jade and Obsidian, “I didn’t think it would be right to take that job without finally being the whole of myself.”
In May, EW confirmed British actor Jeremy Irvine will play Alan Scott in the HBO Max “Green Lantern” series from Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti.
Transgender character Nia Nal, whose powers include precognition and astral projection, premiered on The CW’s “Supergirl” in 2018, played by trans actress Nicole Maines.
“Date Night” was actually written by Maines. In it, Nia Nal stops the League of Shadows from poisoning National City in time to make her date with super-intelligent alien Brainiac 5.
“The bar is now set very, very high, because if you can be a superhero, you can be anything,” Maines told Buzzfeed in April. “It’s like, ‘Well, if I can be a superhero, everything else is very easily within reach.’ So, that’s what I hope people take away from seeing Nia.”
She also praised Dreamer as a chance to demonstrate “trans people are more than what’s in our pants. We are more than our trauma. We’re more than our gender. We are just fully-fledged superheroes, who have an arc outside of our transness.”
In June, Marvel’s “The United States of Captain America” miniseries hits stores, introducing readers to a variety of everyday people from all walks of life who’ve taken up the mantle of Captain America to defend their communities.
One is gay teenager Aaron Fischer, “the Captain America of the Railways,” described in a release as “a fearless teen who stepped up to protect fellow runaways and the unhoused.”
Joshua Trujillo, who wrote Fischer’s debut, said he is “inspired by heroes of the queer community: activists, leaders and everyday folks pushing for a better life.”
Trans artist Jan Bazaldua said she really enjoyed designing the character.
“I am happy to be able to present an openly gay person who admires Captain America and fights against evil to help those who are almost invisible to society,” Bazaldua said in a statement. “While I was drawing him, I thought, well, Cap fights against super-powerful beings and saves the world almost always, but Aaron helps those who walk alone in the street with problems that they face every day.”
Adapted to Marvel Comics by Stan Lee himself in 1962’s “Journey Into Mystery” No. 85, the Norse trickster god Loki is both Thor’s wicked half-brother and a perpetual thorn in the side of the mighty Avengers.
In Norse mythology, Loki is a shapeshifter who has appeared as a fish, a fly and a mare — and gave birth to Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse. In the comics, he’s been presented as an adult male, a child (“Kid Loki”) and a woman.
In the 2021 Disney+ series “Loki,” Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character was confirmed to be bisexual in the show’s third episode, which aired June 23. In it, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino), an alternate-reality female version of Loki, asks Hiddleston’s character about his romantic history.
“What about you? You’re a prince. Must have been would-be princesses,” Sylvie says. “Or perhaps another prince?”
“A bit of both,” Loki responds. “I suspect the same as you.”
In a tweet that morning, “Loki” director Kate Herron confirmed the character’s sexuality, writing, “It was very important to me, and my goal, to acknowledge Loki was bisexual.”
“It is a part of who he is and who I am, too,” wrote Herron, who identifies as queer. “I know this is a small step but I’m happy, and heart is so full, to say that this is now canon in [the MCU].”https://iframe.nbcnews.com/5bHJrpt?app=1
Loki won’t be the only queer in Asgard for long: Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie, confirmed her character will be involved in an LGBTQ storyline in May 2022’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.”
“First of all, as king —as new king — she needs to find her queen,” Thompson told audiences in July at the San Diego Comic-Con. “That’ll be her first order of business. She has some ideas. Keep you posted.”
When Marvels’ “Eternals” arrives in theaters on Nov. 5, viewers will get to see the first out superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played by “Atlanta” star Brian Tyree Henry, Phastos is described as “a brilliant inventor with a mind for creating weapons and technology.”
While Phastos is part of a tribe of alien immortals with fantastic powers, he is married to a human husband, played by out actor Haaz Sleiman. The two share a kiss, according to Sleiman.
“It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss. Everyone cried on set,” Sleiman told Logo TV last year. “For me, it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be.”
That may explain why the movie has earned a mature rating in Russia, where depictions of LGBTQ people in pop culture are prohibited.
Another Eternal, Sprite appears to be a mischievous tween but is actually centuries old and has been trapped looking like a child. Created by legendary artist Jack Kirby in the 1970s, Sprite has alternately been depicted as male, female and gender fluid.
In the upcoming MCU film “Eternals,” the character is being played by actress Lia McHugh, though it’s not clear what their gender identity will be.
Interestingly, Makkari, an Eternal whose super-speed allegedly inspired the myth of Mercury, has been changed from a male character in the comic books to a female character in the film, played by deaf actress Lauren Ridloff.
Wiccan and Speed
Super-powered twins Billy and Tommy Maximoff, the sons of Wanda Maximofff, a.k.a. the Avengers’ Scarlet Witch, made their print debut back in the 2005 comic book series “Young Avengers,” with Billy, alias magic-user Wiccan, already paired with his shape-changing alien boyfriend (now husband) Hulkling.
The twins didn’t make their MCU debut until January 2021 in the hit Disney+ series “WandaVision” as the titular couple’s five-year-old sons. While they don’t exactly assume their grown-up identities in the show, they do begin to exhibit powers — Billy magically ages the boys into adolescence — and wear Halloween costumes that hearken to their superhero alter egos.
With the Scarlet Witch expected to appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” coming to theaters in May, and fellow Young Avenger Hawkeye debuting in her eponymous Disney+ series in November, it’s possible these queer siblings will be back soon, either on the big or small screen.
Since her 1980 debut in the pages of “Uncanny X-Men,” Kitty Pryde has been romantically linked to fellow mutant Colossus and Guardians of the Galaxy leader Star-Lord.
But she’s also been, in the words of writer Kat Calamia in GamesRadar, “the queen of subtextual storytelling” with flirtatious relationships with female X-Men Rachel Summers and Illyana Rasputin.
“Some may even go as far to say it was queerbaiting,” Calamia wrote. “Giving just enough to make queer fans ‘happy’ without actually having to deliver on any real representation.”
In Marauders #12, Pryde, who now goes by “Kate,” has been resurrected by her fellow mutants after being murdered by the treacherous Sebastian Shaw. Eager to celebrate her new lease on life, Pryde gets a tattoo and shares a kiss with the female artist who gave her the tat.
“It’s a wonderful scene,” Screenrant’s Thomas Bacon wrote, “not least because artist Matteo Lolli gives Kate a look of sheer delight after she’s initiated the kiss.”
Technically, Marauders #12 had a Nov. 2020 cover date, but since it confirmed long-held suspicions about the X-fave, we’re going to allow it.
“Kitty was trying to find her authentic self, and her near-death experience helped her achieve it,” Calamia wrote. “With so few bisexual characters in superhero comic books (and even fewer bisexual coming out stories), it makes it that much more important for Kitty Pryde’s bisexuality to continue to be visible,”
In the 2014 live-action film “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” Pryde was played by transgender actor Elliot Page.
Twenty years ago, on one of America’s darkest days, two planes flew into the twin towers, another into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
But even during the tragic early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001, there were heroes. People like Mark Bingham, who was aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it went down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And the Rev. Mychal Judge, who was tending to victims in the World Trade Center’s north tower when debris from the collapsing south tower killed him and many others.
On the face of it, the two men couldn’t have been more different: Bingham was 31 when he was killed; Judge was 68. Bingham, a former college rugby player with a 6-foot-5, 220-pound build, was a gay public relations executive with an active dating life. Judge was a kindly Franciscan friar who was “selectively out,” according to longtime friend and LGBTQ activist Brendan Fay.
But both men showed courage beyond comprehension that day, saving lives and perhaps even souls.
Along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, Bingham confronted the four hijackers aboard United 93. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, their actions ultimately led to the plane crashing in an empty field instead of slamming into its intended target, likely the White House or the U.S. Capitol.
Bingham had enough time to call his mother, Alice Hoagland, to explain what was happening and tell her he loved her.
The chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, Judge rushed downtown when he heard the World Trade Center had been hit and provided aid to the injured in the area and prayers for the dead.
He then entered the north tower, where a command post had been established, and continued to minister to rescue workers and those trapped in the building. Judge was administering last rites when he was killed, The Irish Times reported in 2018, and praying, “God, please end this.”
But there were other threads that connected Bingham and Judge besides their bravery, including their zest for life.
Judge “had a bursting-at-the-sides sense of humor,” said Fay, who co-produced the 2006 documentary “Saint of 9/11.” “He loved to sing and was a real jokester, with a laugh that would fill a room.”
Bingham, once the president of the Chi Psi fraternity at University of California, Berkeley, “was the life of the party,” said Amanda Mark, his roommate in New York and longtime friend. A 2001 Advocate profile recalled Bingham drunkenly running on the field at a college football game to tackle the opposing team’s mascot.
And, according to those who knew them, they both went through a journey of accepting their sexualities.
Like a lot of young gay men of his generation, Bingham struggled to some degree with his sexual orientation. He had come out to his fraternity brothers and his mom, but he wasn’t entirely out at work. Even when he first started playing in a gay rugby league in San Francisco, he had his face blurred in photos in the local press.
“San Francisco didn’t serve as a beacon for him as it had to so many others,” Jon Barrett wrote in the preface to his 2002 biography “Hero of Flight 93.”“He lived there by default, for the most part. His family had moved to the Bay Area in the early 1980s, and most of them were still there.”
Mark recalled how one night, after Bingham relocated to New York and moved in with her, he confessed he wanted “to write the Great American Novel — but gay.”
“So that you’d have to read it in high school, and people would understand that gay people were always among us and were totally normal and a part of our lives,” she said.
Judge’s sexual orientation was not made public until after his death, but he did actively minister to New York’s LGBTQ community in the 1980s and ‘90s and form one of the first Catholic AIDS ministries.
Fay met Judge in the 1980s through the LGBTQ Catholic organization DignityUSA. He said the FDNY chaplain “was out to friars and friends and people he could trust — or people he thought coming out to would help, like parents wanting to support their gay children.”
Judge was one of the few priests who would conduct Mass and provide sacraments to Dignity members.
Immediately recognizable in his brown robe and sandals, Judge visited people who were sick and dying at St. Vincent’s Hospital’s AIDS ward and lead funerals for the young men when their local parishes refused.
“He’d go to Connecticut, to New Jersey; he’d get on an airplane and fly out to do a funeral in Ohio,” Fay said.
Judge was supportive of groups like PFLAG, a nonprofit group serving LGBTQ people and their families, and wrote one of the first checks for the St. Pat’s for All parade, the inclusive celebration Fay founded in 2000.
“Mychal Judge took risks. He pushed boundaries,” Fay said. “He wasn’t a flag-waver, but he definitely pushed boundaries. He figured out how to weave around and do what he felt needed to be done without suffering the wrath of the church.”
He never missed a Pride parade if he could help it, though he walked with Franciscan brothers. According to Fay, he also regularly attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for LGBTQ people.
“It was in these rooms where Mychal felt he could be himself,” Fay said.
Friends of both Bingham and Judge also recalled their great sense of compassion and tendency to form long-lasting bonds.
When TWA Flight 800 exploded over the ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, Judge showed up for several days and forged close relationships with many grieving families.
“When he connected with you in a moment of struggle, very often he stayed with you for life,” Fay said.
Mark had met Bingham in 1988 when she was in high school in Australia and he was part of a group of American teens who came to play rugby in an exhibition. Over the years and across two continents, their bond grew closer.
“Rugby taught Mark to be a team player,” she said. “When you joined the team, you were part of the family. When another player was advancing to the goal line, he’d shout, ‘I’m with you! I’m with you!’ That’s what you say in rugby, but it really embodied everything Mark was about. He couldn’t tolerate unfairness or injustice, and he wasn’t afraid to stand up for the people he loved.”
She called Bingham “the great connector” for his ability to bring disparate groups together. He was always making new friends while still reaffirming bonds with old ones — through phone calls, emails and surprise visits.
Once, when she and her friends returned home to one of their houses in Sydney, they found Bingham waiting for them in the living room. He had flown in unannounced from the U.S.
“He’d say, ‘Let’s keep in touch,’ and he would. And he’d arrange to see you when he was in town,” she said. “He would have just loved Facebook.”
A rugby player at UC Berkeley, Bingham continued to play the sport after moving to San Francisco. He even became a key figure in the creation of the International Gay Rugby league in 2000.
Just months before he died, Bingham was at the league’s first invitational in May 2001, helping the San Francisco Fog defeat the hometown team, the Washington, D.C., Renegades, in a 19-0 shutout.
At the time of the crash, Bingham was working to bring a gay rugby team to New York, which led to the formation of the Gotham Knights.
“Mark’s two worlds were rugby and being gay, and when those worlds collided, he was ecstatic,” Mark said.
After the terrorist attacks, when it became public that Judge was gay “there was a big debate in Catholic circles,” said DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for inclusion for LGBTQ Catholics.
“People couldn’t resolve the fact that a gay person could be holy and selfless,” he said. “It was like cognitive dissonance. I wasn’t even totally convinced he was a gay man until I started doing the research [for the book].”
But, he added, Judge’s whole sense of ministry, of being of service to others, came from his coming to terms with being gay.
“He had empathy and sensitivity to being on the margins,” DeBernardo said. “And he understood the great love God had for him just as he was.”
DeBernardo, like other biographers and friends, said he believes Judge honored his vow of celibacy.
“But speaking to others about how accepting he was of his sexuality — and almost not caring if you knew — I can’t believe he’d want to be closeted now,” he said.
Bingham’s closest friends and family were also ambivalent about his being heralded as a gay hero.
“At first I really felt like his being gay didn’t matter,” Mark said. “Don’t put out ‘gay hero’; he was just a hero.”
But in the weeks after the attacks, she, Hoagland and Bingham’s other friends spoke more about it.
“We decided at that time we should encourage that perspective,” Mark said, “because the truth was there weren’t any gay heroes.”
The gay rugby community wasted little time deciding how to honor their fallen brother: In June 2002, less than a year after the attacks, the inaugural Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament —commonly known as the Bingham Cup — was held in San Francisco with eight teams.
In 2018, the last year the biannual event was held, the competition welcomed 74 teams from 20 different countries. The 2022 Bingham Cup in Ottawa, Ontario, rescheduled from 2020 because of the pandemic, will include 148 teams.
Bingham never got to write his novel, but the tournament that bears his name imparts the lesson he wanted to share, according to Mark.
“Part of the Bingham Cup journey for so many players, they’ll tell you, is that they wanted to play sport but gave it up because they didn’t think they’d fit in,” she said. “Even though they’d never met Mark, they’d say he changed their life.”
Hoagland was integral in keeping her son’s legacy alive: Before her death in 2020, she regularly attended the Bingham Cup tournaments, where players would chant her name and flock to have their photos taken with her.https://iframe.nbcnews.com/UEJc9X6?app=1
One of the tournament’s prizes is called the Hoagland Cup in her honor.
“She was a mother to us all,” Bingham Cup President Jean-François Laberge said. “A lot of members of the IGR movement were abandoned or disowned by their families. She became a mother figure to players across the globe.”
Laberge said he had several discussions with Hoagland and Mark “about the importance of ensuring the tournament not just go on but continue to thrive.”
“All that IGR is, and all that the Bingham Cup has become, carries on Mark’s legacy,” Laberge said. Next year’s tournament will spotlight “our shared values of inclusion, respect and athletic competition,” he added, including a summit on transgender athletes and a wheelchair rugby exhibition game.
At a special dedication ceremony, a Canadian maple will be planted in Ottawa’s Ken Steele Park, where a plaque will officially designate a newly upgraded rugby pitch the Mark Bingham Field.
Judge’s legacy, meanwhile, is both more audacious and more complicated, as supporters redouble their efforts to have him canonized as a Catholic saint.
DeBernardo said a big push for the sainthood movement actually came from the Vatican itself: In 2017, DeBernardo received a call from the Rev. Luis Escalante, an official from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, suggesting the idea.
“There are many avenues to sainthood,” DeBernardo said. “One is if you are a martyr — someone who dies for the faith. But that year, Pope Francis opened another avenue, ‘the offerer of life.’ Someone who knowingly gives their life as an act of service to others.”
Escalante thought Judge fit into that category, DeBernardo said, “because he went into that building knowing it was very likely he wouldn’t make it out, but he wanted to minister.”
Fay said he understands the desire to have Judge recognized by the church, but he’s not sure Judge would want the honor.
“I think he’d rather there be a shelter in his name for LGBT youth,” he said.
Achieving sainthood is a protracted process involving much research and a lengthy formal investigation. According to DeBernardo, Escalante knew Judge was involved in the gay community and wanted New Ways Ministry to help find people who knew him to provide firsthand accounts or documents “that will give a clearer, more detailed picture of his life, spirituality, and ministry,”DeBernardo wrote in a 2017 post on the ministry’s website, especially “any information regarding a possible miracle attributed to Fr. Judge’s intercession.”
Soon Escalante began receiving testimonies supporting canonization from the many communities Judge touched: firefighters, LGBTQ people, homeless people, AA members and others.
Four years later, on Sept. 2, Escalante called DeBernardo again: The testimonies were helpful, but the process had stalled.
Typically, candidates for sainthood have a sponsor who provides advocacy and fundraising.
“That’s why so many saints belong to holy orders,” DeBernardo said.
But Judge’s order, the Franciscans, declined to sponsor him.
“We are very proud of our brother’s legacy and we have shared his story with many people,” the Rev. Kevin Mullen, leader of the Franciscans’ New York-based Holy Name Province, told The Associated Press. “We leave it to our brothers in the generations to come to inquire about sainthood.”
Escalante implored DeBernardo to encourage a grassroots movement to take up the cause.
On Sept. 11, 2021 — two decades after Judge’s death — New Ways Ministry put out the call for individuals and organizations to form an association to sponsor Judge’s canonization.
In a statement, New Ways Ministry co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick said she was hopeful people will come forward “so that this priest who symbolized God’s love to so many different communities will be recognized for the way he himself responded to God’s love.”
CORRECTION (Sept. 11, 2021, 12:52 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the publication year of an article in The Irish Times about the Rev. Mychal Judge. It was published in 2018, not 2011.
Nearly 1 in 10 LGBTQ people in the United States experienced workplace discrimination in the last year, and almost half faced employment bias at some point in their careers, according to a new survey.
The findings were published Tuesday in a report titled LGBT People’s Experiences of Workplace Discrimination and Harassmentby the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. It found that 46 percent of LGBTQ workers reported receiving unfair treatment at some point in their careers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity — including being passed over for a job, harassed at work, denied a promotion or raise, excluded from company events, denied additional hours or fired. An estimated 9 percent reported being denied a job or laid off in the past 12 months because of their orientation or identity.
Researchers at the institute surveyed 935 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer adults in May 2021, more than a year into a pandemic that has disrupted so many workplaces. Their questions asked respondents about discrimination in the last year, last five years and throughout their lifetimes. Because of the pandemic, questions about the previous year only related to whether subjects had been fired or denied a job.
As many as 1 in 4 (25.9 percent) LGBTQ employees said they had been sexually harassed at work at some point, while 1 in 5 (20.8 percent) reported physical harassment — including being “punched,” “hit” and “beaten up” on the job.
A Black queer woman in Pennsylvania told researchers that male co-workers inappropriately touched her and told her, “If you let me, I can turn you straight.” She described their behavior as “obviously very offensive and creepy.”
Another respondent, a gay man in Ohio, recalled a boss who treated him “horribly.”
“She would call me queer at all times and slap me in the face … it went on and on for over a year,” he reported. “It was one of the saddest moments of my entire career and life.”
Reports of discrimination were higher among LGBTQ people of color, 29 percent of whom said they had been denied a job at some point because of their identity, compared to 18 percent of white LGBTQ employees. In addition, 36 percent of LGBTQ employees of color reported experiencing verbal harassment on the job, compared to 26 percent of white respondents.
Many respondents reported being given bad shifts or having their hours reduced, said Brad Sears, executive director at the Williams Institute and lead author of the new study.
“Shift work is a day-to-day reality for millions of Americans,” he said. “It’s harder to prove your boss is intentionally [giving you a bad schedule], but it can have a profound impact on your life.”
The report comes even as the judicial and the executive branches have been shoring up employment rights for LGBTQ workers: In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v Clayton County, Georgia, that Title VII’s protection against sex discrimination in employment extended to sexual orientation and gender identity.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
“Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes,” he said in the order.
On Friday, a federal judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, ruled a Catholic high school couldn’t fire a gay drama teacher after he announced his engagement on Facebook.
“We were surprised there was such high percentages of discrimination in the last year, given the Supreme Court ruling and especially the pandemic,” Sears said. “We thought a lot of companies and workers would be coming together in a new way.”
More than half (57 percent) of LGBTQ employees who reported workplace discrimination said it was motivated by religious beliefs, while 49 percent of white LGBTQ respondents and 64 percent of LGBTQ people of color who said they experienced bias found this to be the cause.
“I was told I was going to hell during a job interview for liking women,” a Black bisexual woman in Texas told researchers.
Sears said religion-based bias was “out in the open,” with employers and co-workers clearly citing their religious beliefs, even in secular workplaces.
“For many, this included being quoted to from the Bible, told to pray that they weren’t LGBT, and told that they would ‘go to hell’ or were ‘an abomination,’” the study reported.
Sears is pressing for passage of the Equality Act, a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in numerous arenas, including employment. The measure cleared the Democratic-controlled House in late February but has a tougher fight in the Senate.
“Bostock was a general pronouncement against discrimination,” Sears said. “The Equality Act gets into the details of the statutes and will provide clear guidance that these behaviors are against the law.”
According to an earlier Williams Institute report, there are approximately 8.1 million LGBTQ workers over the age of 16 in the U.S., almost half (3.9 million) of whom live in states without anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity.
Half of the respondents in the new survey said they weren’t out to their direct supervisor, and a quarter (26 percent) were completely closeted on the job. Many reported using “covering” behaviors to avoid harassment or discrimination, including avoiding talking about their personal lives.
According to the report, “Some of the respondents reported engaging in these covering behaviors because their supervisors or co-workers explicitly told them to do so.”
For transgender employees, more than a third (36 percent) said they’ve altered their appearance and used a different bathroom at work to avoid discrimination and harassment.
This latest report is particularly timely as many workers return to the office after working from home during the ongoing pandemic, Sears said.
“Maybe you spent a year or 18 months not having to hide who you are and suddenly now you’re faced with the possibility of having to go back in the closet,” he said. “It’s going to be a real eye-opener.”
The report, “The State of HIV Stigma 2021,” found that less than half (48 percent) of American adults say they feel knowledgeable about HIV, down from 51 percent last year.
According to the study, which was published by the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD and the Southern AIDS Coalition, 64 percent of adults said they’re aware that there are medications that protect against HIV, but only 42 percent knew that someone properly following an antiretroviral drug regimen can’t transmit the virus.
“Fear comes from a lack of knowing. A lack of information drives the stigma, which feeds the feeling you have to hide. It’s a vicious cycle.”
DAFINA WARD, SOUTHERN AIDS COALITION
Gilead Sciences, which funded the study, makes HIV medications like Biktarvy and Atripla and the HIV prevention pills Truvada and Descovy.
Half of respondents (50 percent) said they’d feel uncomfortable with a HIV-positive medical professional, 42 percent were uncomfortable with a hair stylist or a barber living with the virus, and a third (34 percent) said they were uncomfortable with an HIV-positive teacher.
There were some notable differences between LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ respondents: Fifty percent of straight, cisgender respondents said they wouldn’t be comfortable with a partner or spouse with HIV, for example, compared to 38 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer respondents.
“There’s a correlation there,” Southern AIDS Coalition Executive Director Dafina Ward said. “Fear comes from a lack of knowing. A lack of information drives the stigma, which feeds the feeling you have to hide. It’s a vicious cycle. People are so afraid of being found out they defer treatment.”
More than 500,000 people live with HIV in the South, according to the coalition, but the region falls behind in quality HIV care and prevention services. Sex education in the South also tends to be abstinence-only, Ward added, “so vital conversations aren’t happening” and students aren’t given comprehensive information about preventing HIV/AIDS.
According to Planned Parenthood, seven Southern states either prohibit sex educators from discussing or answering questions about LGBTQ identities and relationships “or actually require sex educators to frame LGBTQ identities and relationships negatively.” Such laws further stigmatize LGBTQ youths and leave them without the information they need to protect their sexual health, the reproductive health services organization said, putting them at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases.
Some issues fueling HIV misinformation, like inadequate sex education, have existed since the dawn of the AIDS crisis, Ward said, but new hurdles have emerged in recent years.
“We’ve had so much advancement in treatment and people living longer, healthier lives that we’ve lost the sense of urgency,” she said. “There’s a new generation that’s not hearing about HIV — not in the media, not in schools and not from the government.”
And when they do hear about it, the message is often warped: Hip-hop star DaBaby came under criticism last month for telling fans at the Rolling Loud music festival in Miami to shine their smartphone flashlights if they “didn’t show up today with HIV/AIDS, any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that will make you die in two to three weeks,” and made other disparaging remarks about gay men in a viral video.
“Stories and voices of people living with HIV are not prioritized regularly to humanize the epidemic, reduce stigma around it, and illustrate how HIV is preventable.”
SARAH KATE ELLIS, GLAAD
A November 2019 survey from the pharmaceutical company Merck and the Prevention Access Campaign underscored how pervasive stigma and misinformation around HIV are among younger Americans.
More than a quarter (28 percent) of HIV-negative millennials (ages 25 to 36 at the time) said they had avoided hugging, talking to or being friends with someone with the virus, and 30 percent said they’d prefer not to interact socially at all with people with HIV.
Researchers also found that 23 percent of HIV-negative millennials admitted that they were either “not at all” or “only somewhat” informed about the virus. For HIV-negative members of Generation Z (ages 18 to 22), the figure leaped to 41 percent.
Nearly half of all HIV-negative young adults in the 2019 survey believed the virus could be transmitted by someone whose viral load is undetectable, even though the CDC has confirmed that there’s “effectively no risk” of infection if someone’s viral load is undetectable.
“Stories and voices of people living with HIV are not prioritized regularly to humanize the epidemic, reduce stigma around it, and illustrate how HIV is preventable,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement about “The State of HIV Stigma” study. “Their stories must be told to show how people with HIV lead long and healthy lives, and cannot sexually transmit HIV when on proper treatment.”
J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, director of HIV and health equity at the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said the report “confirms that HIV stigma permeates throughout our entire society.”
“And as long as HIV is stigmatized, the more it will continue to devastate multiple marginalized communities,” he added.
Last week, the Human Rights Campaign launched the first national in-home HIV testing program, also supported by Gilead Sciences. Partnering with the health equity nonprofit Us Helping Us, the organization has pledged to ship at least 5,000 free at-home HIV testing kits over the next year, focusing on marginalized communities disproportionately affected by the virus, including Black and Latino men who have sex with men, as well as bisexual and transgender women of color.
The kits include an OraQuick oral swab, as well as condoms, lubricants, a card with testing information and a referral to providers of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in their area.
“These in-home self-testing kits empower people to learn their status and take control of their sexual health in the privacy of their own home, helping reduce HIV stigma and fear,” McCants-Pearsall said.
Ending the epidemic
President Joe Biden has made bold promises about fighting HIV/AIDS, starting with a campaign commitment to end the epidemic by 2025, five years earlier than President Donald Trump’s stated goal.
“Updating the nation’s comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy will aggressively reduce new HIV cases, while increasing access to treatment and eliminating inequitable access to services and supports,” Biden wrote in a 20-page candidate HIV questionnaire submitted by a coalition of AIDS organizations.
The White House requested $670 million from Congress this year to end HIV/AIDs, an increase of more than $267 million from previous budgets. He has also pushed to expand the use of HIV-prevention medication and ensure access to HIV services by minorities.
But ending the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS will take more than money, said DaShawn Usher, GLAAD’s associate director for communities of color.
“We have to think critically and intentionally about how we truly equip and engage everyday Americans with the facts, resources, and scientific advancements about HIV,” Usher said in a statement. “We must hold the media accountable to the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV who are not seen, represented, or discussed. Their stories matter and are beyond worthy of being told.”
As young people across America prepare to return to class — some in person, some remotely — the Biden administration issued a message for transgender students.
In a joint video Thursday, Suzanne Goldberg, the acting assistant secretary of education for civil rights; Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke; and Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary of health and human services for health, outlined the federal government’s support for transgender students even as their community is under siege on the state level, where more than 130 anti-trans bills in 36 states have been introduced this year alone, according to the Human Rights Campaign.https://iframe.nbcnews.com/UjuZokP
In the video, Goldberg, a lesbian, discussed the concerns many students have about returning to class, from making friends to keeping up with academic demands.
“If you’re a transgender student, perhaps you’re worried about simply being accepted and safe and being treated with respect as you head into the new school year,” she said.
Clarke, the first woman to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, praised the work by many teachers and administrators nationwide to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ students.
But, she added, “we also know that’s not the reality for all transgender students, including perhaps some of you.”
“In some places, people in places of authority are putting up obstacles that would keep you from playing on the sports field, accessing the bathroom and receiving the supportive and lifesaving care you may need,” Clarke said. “We’re here to say, ‘That’s wrong — and it’s against the law.’”
In the 2020-21 legislative session, more than 75 bills were introduced that would bar trans students from playing school sports. Such measures have become law in nine states, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
“We know you are resilient,” Goldberg said, “and we hope you will find support where and when you need it. But we also want you to know the Department of Education and the entire federal government stand behind you. Your rights at school matter. You matter.”
Goldberg said trans students who faced discrimination should file complaints with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and Clarke confirmed that the Justice Department would investigate such allegations.
“We want you to know that we are looking out for you,” Clarke said. “And we’re looking out for your civil rights.”
It isn’t the first time the White House has reached out to trans youths: In an executive order released on his first day in office, President Joe Biden extended federal nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans, writing, in part, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
In his first address to Congress in April, Biden said, “To all the transgender people at home, especially the young people, I want you to know the president has your back.”
Referring to that “unequivocal message,” Levine said she wanted transgender students to know “that I’ve got your back, too — and I’ll do everything I can to support and advocate for our community.”
Clarke cited the Justice Department’s challenges to bans on transgender girls’ competing in female sports in West Virginia and on gender-confirming treatment for minors in Arkansas, saying, “We stand behind you and are ready to act to defend your rights.”
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, praised the video for “sending a strong and meaningful message to transgender students across the country — and especially in places where they have come under attack by politicians.”
“It’s so important for transgender kids to know that they are not alone and that the president of the United States has their back,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “President Biden and his administration are working to make sure transgender youth have an opportunity to be safe, to learn and to be healthy. They are incredible allies.”
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, interim executive director of GLSEN, a LGBTQ student advocacy nonprofit group, said that she also welcomed such a “bold, affirming message” and that she wanted “further policy action to back up this commitment.”
“The administration must set a clear precedent, not only for federal agencies, but for state and local leaders, and ensure that transgender youth are safe, supported and empowered in our school communities,” Willingham-Jaggers said. “Individual educators and school leaders can step up in the meantime and make thoughtful connections with the transgender students in their schools to show them that they are valued and that they belong.”
That’s more than double the 12 who competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, and it comes after record-setting representation at the Tokyo Summer Games, where at least 185 queer Olympians competed, according to Outsports.
Lauren Appelbaum of RespectAbility, a nonprofit that works to change how society views people with disabilities, said the increased visibility points to the “large intersection” between the LGBTQ and disabled communities.
“We hope that even more out athletes participate in the future,” Appelbaum said in a statement, “as it is critical for all disabled people to have positive role models for success.”
As with the Summer Olympics, the majority of openly LGBTQ Paralympians are women, including four members of Great Britain’s women’s wheelchair basketball team — Jude Hamer, Robyn Love, Lucy Robinson and Laurie Williams.
Williams and Love, a couple for more than six years, got engaged in February 2020, shortly before the start of the pandemic.https://iframe.nbcnews.com/GZyiJKd?app=1
“I couldn’t imagine what my GB journey would have been like if Laurie and I weren’t together,” Love wrote on Instagram, using a shortened term for Team Great Britain. “I don’t think I would have progressed so quickly without her pushing me so hard, I can still hear ‘one more push’ in my head every time I’m defending.”
The only out gay man at the Tokyo Paralympics is Sir David Lee Pearson, a highly decorated para-equestrian who has won gold 11 times at the Paralympics.
There are also two nonbinary Paralympians competing, both Australian: Wheelchair racer Robyn Lambird and Maria “Maz” Strong, who competes in seated shot put. https://iframe.nbcnews.com/m1LmGwL?app=1
“I love seeing our out Paralympians highlighted because it shows that while we still have a ways to go, as a society, we have become more accepting,” Team USA sitting volleyball player Monique Matthews told Outsports. “People are able to be their authentic selves and feel safe.”
Like the Olympics, the 2020 Paralympics were delayed a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. During that downtime, American cyclist Monica Sereda, an Army veteran, found love: She and her partner, Samantha, recently celebrated their one-year anniversary.
“She has been a wonderful, amazing partner and supporter,” Sereda told Watermark Online, adding that, because Samantha is a psychotherapist, “she’s been a huge blessing because she’s able to understand disabilities.”https://iframe.nbcnews.com/23QU39R?app=1
Triathlete Hailey Danz, who will also represent Team USA, came out as gay in a heartfelt Instagram in November 2020, admitting “I‘ve spent much of my life building dams — constructing barriers that prevented me from flowing freely — in an attempt to hide my sexuality. ”
“I know there are a lot of people who say that sexuality has no place in sport; that the press should stop sensationalizing who we love and simply focus on the game,” Danz elaborated in a piece on the Team USA website in June. “To those people let me say this: it was by seeing openly gay athletes that I’ve been able to work through my shame and insecurities and accept who I am.” https://iframe.nbcnews.com/byOqJYu?app=1
The Paralympics are the largest sporting event in the world for people with disabilities — this year, welcoming more than 3,500 athletes from at least 134 nations to compete in a total of 540 events across 22 sports, including, for the first time, badminton and Taekwondo.
First held in Rome in 1960, the Paralympic Games were created “to allow athletes with disabilities to strive for and reach the pinnacle of athletic excellence,” according to RespectAbility.
The Winter and Summer Paralympics are held in the same city as the Olympics and use the same facilities. Eligible disabilities are divided into different categories and classifications and vary by sport.